The concept of a 1:1 meeting is simple: a recurring dedicated conversation where a manager catches up with each of his or her direct reports. It's a simple concept, but many managers don't put much thought into them--or don't do them at all.

We know that bad managers can drive away top talent, so use these five tips to ensure that your 1:1 meetings add real value and build your relationship with your employees. 

1. Hold 1:1s weekly or biweekly.

In most cases, 1:1s should be held weekly or biweekly. Consider the size of your team, your level of daily interaction with employees, and your schedule, all of which may affect your choice.

2. Cancel and reschedule sparingly.

Once you pick your cadence, stick to it. Strive to rarely cancel or reschedule. It can be tempting in a busy week to kick your 1:1s down the road, but the whole point of these meetings is to carve out a break from the daily barrage of tasks and connect with your direct reports. Regularly canceled 1:1s often slide into nonexistent 1:1s.

3. Listen and take notes.

The last thing you want is for your team to see 1:1s as pointless. To avoid this: Be curious. Be present. Ask good questions (find examples here). Then listen and take good notes. Well-taken notes establish continuity through 1:1s and show the employee you're paying attention--and that you care.

4. Be honest.

Another way to make your 1:1s valuable is to center them around honesty--don't let them become fluffy sessions where you only talk about the good stuff. Few managers like giving negative feedback, but most employees want it from you. Even better, by your own honesty, you set the right tone and encourage employees to be candid too.

5. Make 1:1s about the employee.

Finally, it's important to hold the 1:1 as a sacred space where you're not just soliciting status updates or issuing directives. Your ultimate goal with the 1:1 is to further the employee's self-development. Take a step back and focus on the employee as a human being--moving beyond the tactical to understand the big picture.

These meetings need not take more than thirty minutes every other week. But if you put in the intention and consistency required to hold a good 1:1 meeting, you'll soon notice increased engagement and performance from your team.

Published on: Jan 31, 2018